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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Selah’s Vegan Macaroni & "Cheese" or. . . Macaroni with Creamy Cashew Nut & Roasted Red Pepper Sauce


I know my vegan-eating friends will be excited to see this recipe posted but it isn't just for vegans--trust me, it's delicious for the rest of us as well!  There's no pleasure eating healthy food if it tastes like hay.  To make this even more exciting, you can use gluten-free products and have a gluten-free meal.  This is almost too much to bear!

Enough of the fun.  I think you "get it".  I like this macaroni dish even though I'm neither vegan or gluten-free.  But I do like to provide an alternative for friends who choose to or must eat this way.  Regardless of the style of preparation, I can't bring myself to serve something that isn't palatable so it must be "Lois Approved" before it comes from my kitchen.  I'm sure the majority will like this enough to enjoy a good meal. (I know you can't please everyone.) I'll warn those of you who dyed-in-the-wool-Macaroni & Cheese-lovers that this doesn't taste much like cheese but the sauce is so good on its own you won't miss the cheese if you don't dive in looking for cheese. 

This recipe came to me this past summer at camp meeting.  A few of us women (Not men!! Why not?) were asked to serve supper one evening.  It was to give the regular crew a well-deserved break from the kitchen duties of the past week or two.  Macaroni and Cheese was on the menu (which I dearly love) and also a vegan version for anyone who desired this choice.  After everyone was served we sat down to eat our meal.  I had a good serving of the regular Macaroni and Cheese but noticed there was some of the vegan macaroni left in the pan.  I asked if I could have some (I am polite.) and was given the pan to help myself.  I took a small portion, having had less than tasty vegan food in the past, but was happily surprised at how good it tasted.  I ate what I had and had another serving.  It was really good.  Selah, who had cooked the Vegan Macaroni and Cheese, was there so I asked her for the recipe which she gladly recited for me to write down.  I knew it would make a nice addition to my vegan recipe file and I told her I'd blog the recipe so others could enjoy the dish. 

Well, here it is eight months since I first tasted this delicious dish.  Time sure does get away from us.  I've had the ingredients to make this in the cupboard and freezer several months but just never got around to making it until this past week.    We had a church potluck coming up and I knew it was the perfect time to try it out on the unsuspecting crowd (and even better, there was also a woman coming who was vegan).  

I got about to making the dish but had to stop to lick out the saucepan.  Mmmmm....was that ever delicious!  No one licks out a pot or bowl if the stuff inside is nasty.  When it was finished it looked so good in the dish I wanted to eat it for supper but had to restrain myself and eat left-overs.  

Don took a huge serving at the potluck and ate every bite.  I had some and so did many others.  The lady who is vegan enjoyed it very much so I'll count this one as a raving success!

There is a sad note to the story, however.  Chatting after the potluck Ana-Maria mentioned she'd miss Selah this year at camp meeting.  I was so surprised when she told me Selah had passed away some months ago near the end of last year.  I knew she had been sick but was quite shocked at the news. I thought I'd have a chance to tell her I'd made the recipe and published it on my blog. As Christians we look forward to that great day when Jesus returns and we will be reunited with our loved ones and friends. 
 
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You will need a blender or good food processor to make this as the nuts need to be ground fine as a nut butter. And don't confuse nutritional yeast with brewer's yeast.  The two are not interchangeable in recipes.  Nutritional yeast can be found in the health section of most grocery stores or in health food stores.  It has a sweet, almost nutty taste compared to the bitter brewer's yeast. 

Selah’s Vegan Macaroni and "Cheese"
Grease a casserole or baking dish.  You will need a dish that holds at least 8 cups or 2 quarts/litres.  I used a deep casserole dish which worked very nicely with the macaroni. An 8x11½x2-inch dish (this holds 2 quarts/litres) would give you a nice thick layer as well.  A 9x13-inch pan will give you a thinner layer.   Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1¼ cups soy milk or any neutral tasting plant-based "milk"
1 small tub tofu or half a large tub (a little more than 1 cup)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon vegan chicken-like seasoning
½ teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric

Blend above ingredients together to make liquid then follow the directions below:

1 cup broken raw cashews, ground
2 chopped roasted red peppers/pimentos, from a jar drained (half a 370 ml or 12 oz jar)
1 package shredded Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds (or your own favourite brand)
2 cups dry elbow macaroni cooked to package directions

Optional Topping:  I used about ¼ cup cracker crumbs sautéed in a little vegan margarine to sprinkle on top of the "cheese" shreds. 

Add the cashews to the blended ingredients already in the blender, spoonful by spoonful until well blended and there are no lumps.  Add the roasted red peppers and continue blending until everything is as smooth as you can get it. 

Pour the contents of the blender in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thickened and starting to come to a boil.  Turn heat down. 

Add ¾ of  the package of shredded vegan cheese, leaving the remainder for the topping.  Stir until everything is well blended and the "cheese" has melted into the sauce.

Remove from heat and mix in the cooked elbow macaroni, stirring until all the macaroni is well coated with the sauce.  Place in prepared baking dish and top with remaining cheese and cracker crumbs if you wish.  Bake until cheese melts about 20 minutes.  

This can also be refrigerated before baking.  Bake at 350 degrees at least 30 minutes or until heated through. 

Makes 6-8 servings. 


Place the first lot of ingredients in the blender.  The tofu comes in various sized packages.  Choose one of the smaller sizes.  Selah didn't give me any size but I think anything around 300-350 ml should be fine--just a little more than one cup.


 
Whiz everything until liquid.

Add the nuts and keep blending until the mixture is very smooth.  I use a Vita-Mix blender so I can skip grinding the cashews before adding.


Add the roasted peppers or pimentos.  
These should be quite soft and will easily blend into the mixture.


Pour everything into a sauce pan and cook until thick and coming to a boil.  It's amazing how smooth and thick this becomes. 


Add the vegan cheese shreds and mix until melted. 


Stir in the cooked macaroni and pour into the prepared dish. 

All ready for the oven.  You can see I used the optional cracker crumbs on my dish.  Bake at 350 degrees until the topping "cheese" has melted.

Doesn't that look delicious!

 Ready for everyone's dinner.



3 comments:

  1. I am very sorry to hear that Selah passed away; she will be missed greatly.

    I was excited to see that you posted her recipe. I was meaning to get it before I left camp... no such luck :/

    Thank you!! :)*

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, it's sad. Glad you got the recipe.

    ReplyDelete